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Diogenes of Apollonia

This webpage reproduces one of the
Lives of the Eminent Philosophers

Diogenes Laërtius

published in the Loeb Classical Library, 1925

The text is in the public domain.

This page has been carefully proofread
and I believe it to be free of errors.
If you find a mistake though,
please let me know!



(Vol. II) Diogenes Laërtius
Lives of the Eminent Philosophers

Book IX

 p471  Chapter 10

[link to original Greek text] 58 Anaxarchus, a native of Abdera, studied under Diogenes of Smyrna,1 and the latter under Metrodorus of Chios, who used to declare that he knew nothing, not even the fact that he knew nothing; while Metrodorus was a pupil of Nessas of Chios, though some say that he was taught by Democritus. Now Anaxarchus accompanied Alexander and flourished in the 110th Olympiad.2 He made an enemy of Nicocreon, tyrant of Cyprus. Once at a  p473 banquet, when asked by also how he liked the feast, he is said to have answered, "Everything, O king, is magnificent; there is only one thing lacking, that the head of some satrap should be served up at table." [link to original Greek text] 59 This was a hit at Nicocreon, who never forgot it, and when after the king's death Anaxarchus was forced against his will to land in Cyprus, he seized him and, putting him in a mortar, ordered him to be pounded to death with iron pestles. But he, making light of the punishment, made that well-known speech, "Pound, pound the pouch containing Anaxarchus; ye pound not Anaxarchus." And when Nicocreon commanded his tongue to be cut out, they say he bit it off and spat it at him. This is what I have written upon him:3

Pound, Nicocreon, as hard as you like: it is but a pouch. Pound on; Anaxarchus's self long since is housed with Zeus. And after she has drawn you upon her carding-combs a little while, Persephone will utter words like these: "Out upon thee, villainous miller!"

[link to original Greek text] 60 For his fortitude and contentment in life he was called the Happy Man. He had, too, the capacity of bringing anyone to reason in the easiest possible way. At all events he succeeded in diverting Alexander when he had begun to think himself a god; for, seeing blood running from a wound he had sustained, he pointed to him with his finger and said, "See there is blood and not

Ichor which courses in the veins of the blessed gods."4

Plutarch reports this as spoken by Alexander to his friends.5 Moreover, on another occasion, when Anaxarchus was drinking Alexander's health, he held up his goblet and said:

One of the gods shall fall by the stroke of mortal man.6

The Loeb Editor's Notes:

1 Here a Diogenes is mentioned as a link between Democritus and Anaxarchus. See p468, note c. Cf. Clem. Alex. Strom. I.64, p301D Δημοκρίτου δὲ ἀκουσταὶ Πρωταγόρας ὁ Ἀβδηρίτης καὶ Μητρόδωρος ὁ Χίος, οὗ Διογένης ὁ Σμυρναῖος, οὗ Ἀνάξαρχος, τούτου δὲ Πύρρων, οὗ Ναυσιφάνης; Euseb. XIV.17.10; Epiphanius, De fide, 9, p591.

2 340‑337 B.C.

3 Anth. Pal. VII.133.

4 Il. V.340.

5 Vit. Alex. c. 28.

6 Euripides, Orestes, 271.

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Page updated: 5 Mar 18